Alice posts a question. Bob posts an answer. I want to comment on Bob's answer, and I want both Alice and Bob to be notified of the comment. Therefore I type something like "@Alice: As @Bob said....".

I then get a pop-up notice that says I can have only one @-sign per comment. Fine. The same notice tells me that the "owner of the post" will be notified automatically, and therefore I should allocate my @-sign to the non-owner. However, I have no idea whether Alice or Bob counts as the "owner of the post". Is "the post" the question or is it the answer?

Question 1: In this situation, who is the relevant "owner of the post"?

Question 2: Can the pop-up text be modified so that other users won't have to ask this question in the future?

If the post is an answer, the post owner is the author of the answer. In this case, that's Bob. Ideally, you could say something like "@Alice and Bob, (whatever)". If you're commenting under a question, the post owner is the author of the question, and people who've written answers cannot be tagged with @ symbols unless they have left comments under the question (needless to say, they definitely won't be pinged automatically).

I don't think we need a modification in the message because there's an on Meta SE which should be linked in the page the pop-up takes you to: How do comment @replies work? It's probably not feasible to add a direct link to the comment @ replies section because we don't have enough space for that level of detail.

• It might be worth rewording this to say that the post owner is the author of the post you're commenting on. That way, people who are similarly confused but were trying to comment on a question instead can read this and come away with something that helps them as well. – David Z Dec 13 '18 at 7:42
• Also, is the FAQ post actually linked in the popup? It doesn't look like it is to me. (I tried it on this post) – David Z Dec 13 '18 at 7:46
• @DavidZ It's linked indirectly, though I think what I wrote states otherwise. The popup has a page titled 'how do comments work', and there's a link from there to the MSE post about @ replies. I'll make an edit. It's tricky to say "the post owner is the author of the post you're commenting on" because some new users may consider the combination of the question and the answer to be a single post. That being said, there's no harm in adding a bit more detail to make this less ambiguous for future users; I'll do that in a moment. – user191954 Dec 13 '18 at 8:10
• @DavidZ : I actually think that's an entirely unhelpful rewording. If I'm commenting on Bob's answer to Alice's question, and if I'm told that the post owner is the author of the post I'm commenting on, I have no idea whether "the post I'm commenting on" refers to Alice's question or to Bob's answer. A large part of the problem in the first place is that the phrase "the post" is ambiguous. (And yes, I do now see the logic of why "the post I'm commenting on" refers to the answer, but for me, at least, it took a little while for that to click.) – WillO Dec 13 '18 at 8:16
• @WillO It's straightforward enough to use "question or answer" instead of "post" if that helps. Anyway, I guess I don't see it being that confusing that when you type in the comment box under an answer, you are commenting on that answer. I mean, of course some people will not get that, but I'm a little skeptical that it's a high fraction of users, even of relatively new users. I wonder if there's a good way to find out? Of course, ultimately the goal is to come up with clearer wording, which will be great if possible; I personally don't have any ideas. – David Z Dec 13 '18 at 8:42
• @WillO If that is in fact unclear wording (i.e. if the population of users that find it confusing is nontrivial), then this meta is the wrong venue for it - that needs to be dealt with at the SE-wide level at Meta Stack Exchange. – Emilio Pisanty Dec 15 '18 at 20:00